Originally posted on Startup Nation.
4 Ways to Etsy-fy Your Customer Experience
There are two types of online shopping experiences: the fast and free necessity purchase – often completed on the Amazon app while waiting in a long line behind several couponers – and the personalized boutique purchase. The shopper seeking the first option just wants to buy their product and receive it as quickly as possible. But the shopper that is seeking the latter type of online experience often ends up on sites such as Etsy, a marketplace that features handmade, personalized, or otherwise difficult-to-find items created by skilled artisans. Customers looking for this experience are not so concerned with shipping fees or fast delivery because they are paying for craftsmanship and personalized care. Much like receiving an unexpected handwritten thank you note from your niece in the mail, these shopping experiences make you feel connected to the person or store that you purchased from. And as a result, you remember the store and return to buy again – or you may tell the stranger next to you at the checkout line about your experience.
Since it can be a challenge for small businesses to compete with the fast, free shipping that most online customers have come to expect (link to previous Startup Nation article), one viable option is to “Etsy-fy” your customer’s experience. The sellers on Etsy are masters at making their customers feel special, whether by including quirky extras to each package, wrapping the items in unusual wrapping, or adding a handwritten note expressing their gratitude for every order. Etsy sellers have proven that, no matter the product or the size of your company, each package can be personalized in order to build strong relationships with your customers. And when you build this type of connection, you increase the odds that you will inspire customers to return to your store.
Return customers are more valuable than new customers for a couple of reasons. For one, they don’t cost as much, needing far less in marketing efforts to return to your store. They are also more likely to purchase during holiday seasons and spend more per order, because you’ve established a relationship built on trust. For this reason, it is crucial for ecommerce businesses to invest in personalizing shipments. Even more established companies can effectively do this by automating the personalization process so that fulfillment and shipping are not delayed.
A few ways you could “Etsy-fy” your customer experience:
- Combine a personalized greeting or welcome note with a special come back offer. Welcome new customers to the family. As customers, we identify brands as an extension of our own values or persona; so this simple message establishes that identity with new customers. You can continue to build your relationship with repeat customers by offering them related products that acknowledge their regular purchases. Including a promotional or discount code for another purchase builds loyalty further.
- Personalize the package based on the order. Knowing what a customer wants or is interested in vastly increases the chances of a repeat purchase – and it can also increase the size of the typical repeat order. If you shop at places like CVS, you’ve likely received receipts that feature custom-chosen coupons for products that are similar to the ones you have previously purchased. These stores have tracked your purchases in order to provide you with incentives that are personalized to your preferences. In the same way, ecommerce owners can also use platforms like ShipHero to track their customers’ purchases in order to generate personalized incentives. These can be sent either via email or as promotional inserts featuring other products related to the contents of the order.
- Include a handwritten note using 3D printers or outsourced companies.
In a digital world, the personalized note stands out as a unique and special feature. That handwritten note included in your order – most often from the Etsy store owner you just purchased from – adds to the magical moment when you open your box! It isn’t just an order you placed online – fulfilled and sent by robots – it’s an experience thoughtfully created by an individual who is actually grateful to have created it for you. Such an experience leaves an impression. But obviously, it is not possible for most larger-scale businesses to include handwritten notes in order to recreate this impression. So, smart ecommerce companies have tried to emulate this experience in a couple of ways. Some opt to employ businesses that actually handwrite notes to customers! While this may not be a viable option to include with all of your orders, it is possible to do this for specific products or perhaps for repeat customers. Another option for ecommerce businesses wanting to include handwritten notes is to use 3d printers or even dedicated handwriting printers (https://www.axidraw.com/) to recreate notes that look like they were written by hand.
- Personalize the order by adding unexpected surprises.
There are a number of factors you can use to personalize a box “unopening experience.” Add elements such as colored tissue paper, a simple novelty toy, or even an extra treat (when was the last time you received an order with a surprise chocolate bar!?). To make sure you can scale these kind of tasks for each order shipped, create simple rules that are easy for the packer to follow. For example, you can use a specific packing material color based on the order shipping state or include an item based on the day of the week the order will arrive at the shipping address.
It doesn’t take much, but finding a way to add just a little something special to your orders can make a huge impact in the number of return customers your store receives, and in turn, the number of sales your store makes.
Nicholas Daniel-Richards is the co-founder of ShipHero, a cloud based software platform for desktop and mobile designed to manage inventory, fulfillment, shipping and returns for growing businesses.